Undertaking Qualitative Research

Procedure Number: 
Policy Number: 
Vice-President, Academic
Vice President, Academic
November 17, 2009
Last Amended: 
October 2, 2012
September 2, 2016
Procedure Statement: 

NOTE:  This procedure is consistent with the Tri-Council Policy Statement TCPS2 Chapter 10: Qualitative Research.

1.       Modalities of Expression of Free and Informed Consent

The Research Ethics Board (REB) will require researchers to explain in their research design the consent procedures and strategies they plan to use.

2.       Observational Studies

REB review is not required for observation of people in public places that does not involve collecting personal identifiable information through direct interaction with the individuals, and that does not involve any intervention staged by the researcher. Such research does not involve human participants as defined by these procedures.

Web-based research and secondary data sources that use exclusively publicly available information for which there is no presumption of privacy does not require REB review. Such research does not involve human participants as defined by these procedures.

When considering research involving observation, including web-based research where personal identifiable information is being collected or where individuals have a presumption of privacy, the REB will apply a proportionate approach to ethics review.

Subject to the research context and the scholarly traditions used in the research proposal, the REB will acknowledge that individuals may want to be identified for their contribution.

3.       Timing of the REB Review

REB review is not required for the initial exploratory phase when the researcher is developing the research design. Research ethics review is required once the terms of the research are established. The researcher must receive REB approval prior to the start of the formal data collection in the field.

When researchers are using emergent designs in data collection, the REB will review and approve the general procedure in accordance with appropriate professional and disciplinary standards.

Last updated June 22, 2015